Collective UK air quality action needed

Tim Morris Tim Morris: "Today’s report is clear that to make a major difference in urban areas around ports the improvement requires more than the port itself acting." Credit: UKMPG

The UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG) has held a round table briefing on ports and air quality in the UK with all stakeholders being asked to take action to make improvements.

The briefing was based on the emerging findings from research, commissioned from air quality specialists Arup. The research found the operations of ports themselves make up a small proportion of total air quality emissions, particularly in urban locations.

Tim Morris, chief executive of the UKMPG, commented: “Major ports can and will do more to continue their record of AQ improvement. But today’s report is clear that to make a major difference in urban areas around ports the improvement requires more than the port itself acting.

“All stakeholders – industry and Government at different levels – need to play their parts to deliver meaningful impact. We collectively need to find solutions that achieve the joint goals of better air quality and ensuring that the U.K. gets the best out of its global gateways.”

Multiple contributors

The research discovered that air quality around ports – particularly in urban areas – is dominated by road traffic emissions and not solely, port related traffic. Emissions from vessels in the ports usually have a relatively low and very localised impact.

Effective options for ports to continue to improve their air quality performance include action to help reduce congestion in freight flows (e.g. vehicle booking systems), a range of operational improvement and engagement measures and shifting to greater electrification of port operations, noted the report.

Government action could include restore and boost incentives for modal shift of freight from road transport to, particularly, rail. Government could also act to support a speedier transition to the electrification of port operations.

Over the mid and longer terms, Government could support the provision of infrastructure for much greater electricity demand at ports (e.g. shoreside power supply) and working in international for a on agreements for shipping standards.

The Arup research report is expected to be released in the week commencing 17 September

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